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GJA, W. Africa Nobles Forum condemn attacks on journalists

BY: Seth J. Bokpe
 Rev. Dr Paul K. Fynn
Rev. Dr Paul K. Fynn

Two bodies, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the West Africa Nobles Forum, have condemned two separate attacks on journalists that took place last week.

The GJA said it was appalled by reports of threats on some members of staff of Radio XYZ, an Accra-based private radio station, by the Founder and Leader of the Glorious Word and Power Ministries International, Rev. Isaac Owusu-Bempah.

It unreservedly condemned Rev. Owusu-Bempah’s action and called on the police to immediately arrest and prosecute him.

The West Africa Nobles Forum, on the other hand, urged the police to immediately interdict the policemen who assaulted three Ghanaian

Times journalists, including a nursing mother, who ended up on admission at the Ridge Hospital.

The forum said police action would send a signal to other policemen that the Police Administration would not shield its personnel and officers who became a law onto themselves.

Both bodies expressed their opinions in separate statements issued in Accra.

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The President of the GJA, Mr Affail Monney, signed the statement on behalf of the GJA, while the President General of the forum, Rev. Dr Paul K. Fynn, signed for the forum.

Background

Last Friday, Rev. Owusu-Bempah was captured on video on the premises of the radio station, in the company of four gun-wielding men, in search of a presenter of the station.

In the process, he and his armed men allegedly manhandled the administrator and other staff of the radio station.

In the case of the Ghanaian Times journalists, they were on their way to the day’s assignments last Thursday morning when about 10 policemen allegedly assaulted them at Kinbu in Accra Central.

The assault followed an incident in which the policeman reportedly smashed part of the vehicle in which the journalists were sitting with his motorbike.

When exchanges ensued between the policeman and the reporters, one of the journalists started recording the incident, which angered the policeman and some of his colleagues who got to the scene.

Mr Malik Sullemana, a court reporter; Mrs Raissa Sambou Ebu, a general reporter, and Mr Salifu Abdul Rahman, an assistant editor, suffered the assault unleashed by the policemen, leading to two of them being sent to hospital.

Owusu-Bempah and vandalism

The GJA observed that “the attack on Radio XYZ comes exactly four months after Rev. Owusu-Bempah had reportedly vandalised studio equipment at Hot FM, another Accra-based radio station. Featuring in a Current Affairs programme on the station on December 13, 2018, he, in a fit of rage, allegedly vandalised the studio equipment”.

“These two instances of attack on radio stations within a spate of four months are clear indications that the ‘man of God’ is fast gaining notoriety as a ‘man of violence’, for which reason he must be checked,” the statement said.

In that regard, the GJA called on the Ghana Police Service to immediately arrest Rev. Owusu-Bempah and prosecute him in order to deter him, his assigns and other like-minded persons from conducting themselves in similar manner in the future.

Other bodies, advice

It also called on the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Catholic Secretariat, the Ghana Pentecostal Council, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council and other Christian bodies, as well as the clergy and Christendom in general, to roundly condemn Owusu-Bempah’s violent conduct, which had brought the name of their faith into contempt, disrepute and ridicule.

The association reminded Owusu-Bempah that in a democratic dispensation, the means to seek redress to grievances were governed by the rule of law and civility and that assault, violence and similar conducts were not civil means of seeking redress to grievances.

Nobles Forum

For its part, the Nobles Forum observed that the assault on the three journalists showed a growing culture of police intolerance of journalists and civilian population that must be nipped in the bud.

It said the Police Administration had, over the years, not demonstrated a commitment to punish its errant personnel and officers who went on rampage in Rambo-style, assaulting civilians at the least provocation.

“Unfortunately, there is one too many cases in recent times where policemen who beat journalists are let off the hook. One that comes easily to mind is the attack on a journalist of the Multimedia Group, Mr Latiff Idrissu, who was left with a fractured skull.

“Although the police opened investigations into the matter, it has not yielded any fruit because the police claimed they could not identify their men who were the perpetrators. This was an incident that happened right in front of the Police Headquarters where the police have CCTV cameras,” the statement said.

It also recalled a February 23, 2018 incident in which three policemen allegedly assaulted Mr Christopher Kevin Asima, a presenter of A1 Radio, while he was covering a fire outbreak in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.

It recounted another instance when a policeman, Constable Wilson Bossey, with the Visibility Unit of the Sekondi Police Command, physically assaulted a Takoradi-based journalist with Skyy Media Group, Nana Adu Kyei Danso Abiam, who had questioned why the policeman was riding an unregistered motorbike without a crash helmet.

It said those incidents showed that there were elements in the service who were engaged in mob action that constituted a gross violation of the rights of their victims.